Mahiliou-based freelance journalist Alina Skrebunova is accused of making and distributing media products without having accreditation.
The case is contributing to three mild news stories (about a Belarusian-language cafe; Mahiliou cyclists; local pancake holiday) for Belsat TV. The investigators consolidated them into a single administrative case.
“Five people whom I had interviewed were summoned as witnesses, but no one has come,” Alina told Belsat TV.
Her case is being considered by judge Tatsyana Kastsyuk at Leninski district court of Mahiliou.
(UPD) The journalist has been found guilty and will have to pay BYN 690 to the state budget.
“This time, I have been also charged with distributing media materials, which is quite strange. This fact proves that the police are clueless about the process of creating news stories. They have no idea about editors’ work and even the law [on media],” says the journalist.
In September, Alina Skrebunova was fined 460 BYN for working without accreditation.
Belarusian authorities are giving no peace to Belsat TV journalists: according to the BAJ, no other media outlet in the country is coming under such fire. For the year to date, Belsat TV journalists have had to pay about $ 14,000 of fines. Moreover, our ciolleagues have been sentenced to dozens of days in prison.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nearly ten years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists during these very nine years. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat because the journalists working for the TV station … break the law.
Thus, the circle closes: journalists are denied accreditation because they break the law and they break the law, because they work without accreditation that they seek… And it explains the existence of absurdist Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.